From an Idea to a Sustainable Organization: Getting a Grassroots CBO Off the Ground
Many community-based organizations (CBOs) started out as, and still remain, small “grassroots” organizations – the sort of organizations that are created by concerned individuals to respond to needs they identify in their own community. These organizations often begin in a small way, with innovative ideas for change. Grassroots organizations stand out for their community orientation. They tend to involve individuals who are passionately driven by the interests and needs of the community. Often this refers to the involvement of individuals who reflect the concerns of the people that the organization’s efforts are intended to benefit; equally often, it refers to the inclusion of individuals whose own experiences with the issues of concern have created in them an impetus for action. The spirit of the organization is often one of commitment, passion, and activism, with a strong interest in addressing gaps in the current infrastructure. Because of their relatively small size, strong commitment, and connection to the relevant issues, grassroots organizations may be able to achieve short-term successes at a faster pace than more established organizations or governmental entities could. Short-term success does not always lead to sustained progress, however, and the path from a good idea to a stable infrastructure for public health improvement and social change can be challenging. This chapter aims to offer some insight into some of the challenges and opportunities involved in getting grassroots efforts and organizations off the ground and establishing new and sustainable organizations.